The Myth of the Solopreneur
July 21, 2020
As the English language goes, the word “solopreneur” is a relatively new word, arising in the 19990s as a mashup of the words “solo” and “entrepreneur.”
One dictionary defines the term is “a person who sets up and runs a business on their own.”
A 2019 study estimates that there are roughly 42 million solopreneurs in the United States contributing $1.3 trillion to the economy. With millions of layoffs having occurred since the onset of the pandemic, one would have to believe that these numbers have swelled even further.
The problem with the term “solopreneur,” though, is that it’s a myth. There’s no such thing as a person who runs a business on their own.
On a recent episode of “North Fulton Business Radio,” I welcomed Alicia Butler Pierre, who is a business infrastructure authority with her own firm, Equilibria. Alicia and I got into a conversation about solopreneurs, and we agreed that the term is a myth. Using herself as an example, Alicia indicated that the list is at least 20 people she can call on, all with different areas of expertise, which she uses in varying degrees depending on her needs at the time.
We didn’t get into the details of her particular lineup of outsourced experts, but for most solopreneurs this list typically includes one or more virtual assistants. You also might have an outsourced sales or marketing professional, a website developer, a social media expert, a writer who’s helping with a blog or maybe a book, a videographer, or a podcast producer. In our interview, Alicia indicated she has “at least 20 different people she can call on, because they have different skill sets.”
Alicia and I didn’t have time to get to this, but beyond these outside contractors or firms, successful solopreneurs rely on an entire network to support their enterprise, which includes:
- An attorney, CPA, banker, and bookkeeper – These outsourced advisors deserve their own category because of how essential their expertise can be to the ultimate success of your business. Great business attorneys aren’t just paper mills producing legal documents; they can offer timely advice based on not just their experience but on what they’ve seen with other clients. A good CPA or trusted tax expert saves you not only tax dollars, but time which can be better devoted to other aspects of your business. If you have a good banker you know by name, you know that you don’t often need them, but when you do, the need is acute. Once you have an outside bookkeeper who helps you keep your books straight, you never take for granted the value of knowing your numbers. All four of these roles are essential to the effective running of any business, including that of a solopreneur.
- Other outside experts, mentors, or advisors: You might have a formal relationship with a business coach. You might have a one, two, or maybe several colleagues in the field who you look to as your unofficial advisors. You might even go so far, even as a solopreneur, to have an outside board of advisors. These individuals represent not only essential sounding boards for ideas and strategy, but can offer straight talk when you’re headed in the wrong direction and reassurance when you’ve hit a crisis point.
- Your chamber of commerce or industry association: If you belong to a great chamber of commerce or industry association, these organizations have great resources to help you build your business. They also represent a tribe of like-minded business owners whose “been there, done that” experience gives you valuable shortcuts in your own journey.
- Your local networking group: beyond your chamber or business association, you might be part of a networking group which provides not just referrals but support and camaraderie.
- Investors: You might have someone who believes enough in you and your enterprise that they’ve lent you capital or actually invested in your business as a financial partner.
- Other support systems: For many solopreneurs, this category may be the most important. It’s your family and friends who cheer you on and give you encouragement during dark days. They may not be experts in your field, but they are authorities on YOU, giving you needed words of support or maybe a kick in the pants when you need it.
If you’re a solopreneur, think about the web which supports your work. How many different individuals or firms support your work in one way or the other? If you start making a list, I’d wager it’s more than you think. For most solopreneurs I know, the list should be longer than it is. They are pulling back on the reins of their business by not relying on more outside expertise and help to leverage their work.
The term “solopreneur” is a myth. The extent to which you embrace this truth, the more successful you will be.
©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray
Image Credit: JumpStory
About me: I’m enthusiastic about how changes in pricing strategy can significantly change profitability for a business and enhance life choices for business owners. I live this passion through Ray Business Advisors, my outside CFO and business advisory practice, in which my pricing is exclusively value-based, not hourly. I work with business owners on how they can change their pricing not just to increase their profits, but better serve the wants of their customers. Click here to learn more or call me at 404-287-2627.